They carried it through the door of our little brick house. Two heavy pedestals with claw feet, followed by the two halves of the table, which were carefully placed on top.
It had two leaves, each 18 inches wide, giving us three feet to extend the length of our table.
I envisioned it with children circling round, and friends crowded in, bowls of steaming soup and warm homemade bread in front of each smiling face.
My heart swelled at the thought.
It was our tenth wedding anniversary gift to each other, this table.
Heavy oak, custom made by a man who, unfortunately, decided to experiment with a new finish that year – a thick coating that still gets sticky each summer and can be scraped off by curious fingernails.
The day the table was delivered, we had four children and we dreamed of one or two more.
Strangers questioned our family size, but we believed children were a blessing from the Lord.
We were steeped in a church culture that encouraged large families, homeschooling, home birthing, home everything, really.
We still believe with all our hearts that children are a blessing from the Lord.
Our thoughts on family size, where babies are born, where and how children are educated have expanded and become more flexible. There is tremendous freedom in these matters.
Regardless, I wanted a table filled with love, and food, and laughter.
God answered the longing of my heart.
He gave us two more children while we lived in Colorado.
Three years later we moved to Idaho and added one leaf to the table – our family was complete.
We loved having people over for dinner and often pulled the second leaf out of the coat closet for Sunday gatherings. The ten-foot table fit our family and plenty more.
One week before my 39th birthday, to our great joy, we had a baby girl, Claire, and our family was complete – really, this time we were done.
You know the rest of the story, when she was three, and life seemed strangely calm, God opened our hearts to the needs of orphans in Ethiopia, and we felt led to adopt.
We added four more children to our family and from 2007 onward, our table permanently held both leaves. Ten feet in length, it filled our dining room.
Until last week.
To everything there is a season…
Our family was once expanding, a long, deep inhale, growing, taking up more and more space.
Now we’re exhaling, becoming smaller, our house emptying, our table less crowded.
This seems to have happened quickly and rather dramatically with a few of our older kids moving out of state this year. Our college-age daughter, Annarose, gone for the summer and moving in with friends when she returns.
We’re down to five kids at home. With Zoe possibly returning home to her mom in the coming months and Beza turning 18 in September, eager for more independence, who knows what this year may hold?
Too many evenings found five or six of us eating dinner at one end of a ten-foot table and it seemed time to say, “This is us; this is the family we are now.”
It was time to take a leaf out of the table.
I won’t deny some sadness, but the leaf is in the coat closet and can easily be added to the table when the big kids are home.
One day, maybe not too many years from now, we’ll inhale again and expand to add more spouses and even grandchildren.
Our home and table will fill again when they visit.
There are seasons, and right now we’re called to focus on the younger children in our family, a crew with significant trauma and needs.
Although the numbers are small, the task is not.
This is a new season and I’m finding my way in it; a smaller table, fewer children at home, my big kids spreading out around the country. Life feels very different.
My table reminds me our family is changing; I can change too, I am strong enough for this.
For everything, there is a season.